Do Patents Foster International Technology Transfer? Evidence from Spanish Steelmaking, 1850-1930

Victor Menaldo. "Do Patents Foster International Technology Transfer? Evidence from Spanish Steelmaking, 1850-1930." Patents, Inventors, and Politics: Historical Perspectives on Current Debates, Oxford University Press 2021.

International technology transfer is the conveyance of processes, goods, and new ways of organizing production from one country to another. Throughout history, late industrializing countries have relied on sundry methods to acquire technology from the industrial frontier. Among the most time-honored measures practiced by governments and firms in developing nations, some of which date to the Seventeenth Century, are: conducting industrial espionage; enticing skilled technicians to immigrate to their shores; sending their best and brightest students abroad to identify, study, and absorb the latest innovations; importing machinery; and courting foreign direct investment (FDI). A more recent conduit of international technology transfer, dating to around the Second Industrial Revolution, is individuals and firms in developing countries signing licensing agreements with foreign patent holders in exchange for royalties and other perks. When and why do late industrializers opt for protecting the intellectual property rights (IPR) of foreign inventors in order to facilitate technology transfer from the industrial frontier? Are patents a substitute for industrial espionage, skilled labor from abroad, imported machinery, and joint ventures? Or do they complement those measures?

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